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Exp Cell Res. 2004 Oct 1;299(2):476-85.

Differential activation of vascular genes by hypoxia in primary endothelial cells.

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Rudbeck Laboratory, Department of Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.


Changes in the local environment, such as reduced oxygen tension (hypoxia), elicit transcriptional activation of a variety of genes in mammalian cells. Here we have analyzed the effect of hypoxia in different vascular endothelial cells (ECs) with emphasis on hypoxia-regulated transcription factors and genes of importance for blood vessel dynamics. While hypoxia induced the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) in all endothelial cells tested, the closely related HIF-2alpha protein was markedly induced in microvascular/capillary endothelial cells, but only weakly or not at all in artery and vein endothelial cells. Furthermore, microvascular/capillary endothelial cells responded to hypoxia with increased number of transcripts encoding vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), VEGF receptor-2, the angiopoietin receptor Tie2, platelet-derived growth factor-B (PDGF-B), and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). In vein endothelial cells, hypoxia instead increased transcripts encoding lymphatic vascular components VEGF-C, -D, and VEGF receptor-3. Finally, reduced VEGF receptor levels and phosphorylation indicated establishment of a functional autocrine VEGF-A loop in hypoxic endothelial cells. Our results show that endothelial cells, derived from different vascular beds, mount different transcriptional responses to changes in oxygen tension.

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